Thursday, 8 November 2012

A Post in which I Self-Indulgently Bemoan My Inability to Get a Job

As I mentioned in my last post, I am newly unemployed. Congratulations! I hear you say, because I apparently have super-hearing-powers.* Well, yes, faraway voice, it is an achievement of sorts. I like to think of myself as a brave pioneer, boldly setting foot in the screaming void of poverty that is unemployment among the under-25s in Britain today.

What I've actually been doing, of course, is bleakly panicking about my utter lack of relevant experience for any of the jobs I want to apply for. I want to work in the charity sector where, I'm told, it's ever so important that you have a lot of voluntary work experience behind you (of which I've done some, but evidently not enough). Here's the thing though: when I've tried to get some, I've found that I need experience I don't have even when I'm trying to work for free. Obviously, charities rely heavily on volunteers and so those volunteers need to be able to do their jobs properly. I'm certainly not saying that charities shouldn't ask for quality volunteers, I'm just a little perturbed when I'm asked for a 'proven track record in fundraising' when applying for a voluntary fundraising internship. If I had a proven track record, surely I wouldn't need to be on an internship, let alone one that doesn't pay?

Of course, I have no objection to volunteering my time and energy for a charity I believe - I'm more than happy to do so, and have done in the past - but I still think there is something wrong with the assumption that every candidate who applies for a job/internship will have had the opportunity to do a full-time or even part-time voluntary internship. Even if I were able to get one of these posts, I would struggle to support myself on the part-time job I would have to (also struggle to) find. When there is such a strong tradition of young people working for free that employers expect it as standard and candidates have to really compete to do so, there has to be something wrong with the system. As I'm sure everyone's aware, this isn't just a problem in the charity sector (that just happens to be where I've seen it while I've been job-hunting); the unpaid internship is also de rigeur for some corporate graduate posts - something that really isn't excusable considering that corporations don't rely on volunteers, and the ones that tend to employ interns for free tend to be able to afford to pay at least minimum wage.

I don't really have a point, except that unpaid internships are a shitty tradition that seriously harm social mobility, but that's been said lots of times before. I guess all I'm saying is that the fact I want to work for a charity doesn't make me any more able to work substantial numbers of hours a week for free. And that anyone who knows of any way I can make that sort of thing work would be more than welcome to tell me their secrets in the comments.

I don't really like leaving things on such a ranty note so, in other news, Joe Biden's going to be on Parks and Rec! (Also, yay Obama/Biden etc!)

*Damn, I was hoping for flight, time control and invisibility. Which would actually be devastating for me and for the rest of the world, so it's probably good I got something rubbish. 

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